An Attitude of Gratitude - Does a Body Good!
"The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for." - Zig Ziglar
November is a time for Thanksgiving and remembering all the blessings we have in our lives. However, for those of us that suffer from a chronic illness like Parkinson’s disease, or our care partners to those with PD, we often get so caught up in the negatives in our lives that we miss the opportunities to be grateful.
Gratitude and wellness
An "Attitude of Gratitude" not only helps others to feel good it also has been shown to have effects on those being grateful. Studies on gratitude and wellness are not new. In a 2017 article out of the Greater Good Magazine from the University of Berkeley, the research showed several benefits to having an attitude of gratitude. While it may take some time, not only does showing gratitude or having a grateful spirit release us from negative emotions, it also has permanent effects on our brain.1
Research also shows that people who are grateful sleep better, are more sympathetic and have less depression and anxiety.1
Gratitude and Parkinson’s
It can be easy for those affected by Parkinson’s to get wrapped up in the negative emotions and aspects of living with this disease. I mean let’s face it, it is not a real glamorous disease. However, it is important for us to remember that THERE is always something to be grateful for and there are blessings both big and small on a daily basis in our lives.
Science and Parkinson’s
There have been studies involving the effects of gratitude and PD. Just as exercise, diet and medication all help with our daily living and slowing the progression of this disease. Making sure we are “counting our blessings” does as well.
Probably the most important study in regards to Parkinson’s disease came from the National Institutes of Health. The overall effects of gratitude had a major effect on the hypothalamus. This is important because it controls a wide array of our bodily functions, including metabolism, and stress levels.2
For those who care for people with Parkinson’s, it is equally important to be willing to find an "Attitude of Gratitude". Be willing to see the small things that are good! Sometimes you have look closely, but they are there!
Researchers have also found that gratitude directly affects the brain regions responsible for the neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. DOPAMINE! HEY! We need DOPAMINE!!
Ways to show gratitude
It takes effort on our part to make sure that we do not neglect our "Attitude of Gratitude". November is the perfect time to remind everyone of that while Thanksgiving is a season we seem to express one month out of a year, we need to have an "Attitude of Gratitude" 365 days a year!
- 30 Days of Thanksgiving: One of our traditions for November that we have been doing on all of our social media groups is #30daysofThanksgiving. Every day throughout the month of November I will post something I am grateful for. This year I will be doing this on ParkinsonsDisease.net's Facebook and in the article comments. I encourage everyone to participate with their blessings too!
- Keep a "Gratitude Journal": Keeping a journal helps us to remember even the smallest things we may overlook. Start small. List 3-5 things each day that you are grateful for.
- Random act of kindness: Sometimes doing a random act of kindness for somebody else without any expectation of acknowledgment or praise can raise our happy juices (serotonin and dopamine). That includes our care partners!
- Remember to use our gratitude words: This does not have to only be a thing we do in November. Try to be grateful for the little things in life. This may even include returning small acts of kindness – doing something special for someone that did something nice for you.
- Write a thank you note: A dying tradition that I for one thinks needs to be revived. The writing of “thank you” notes. When someone gives you a gift or does something kind for you, let them know with a card or note how grateful you are. Not only will it brighten their day, but it will also brighten yours!
- Be grateful for yourself!! When we get depressed and down, remember you are NOT this disease and still have so much to offer. Find ways to be productive and active.
These are only suggestions. BE CREATIVE! The idea is to be more aware of the people that love us and what we HAVE and not what we DON’T have.
You will be happier and healthier for it in the long run!
I am so grateful that you read my article!
Have you or a loved one ever tried speech therapy?